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Consolation ➽ [Reading] ➿ Consolation By Michael Redhill ➲ – “There is a vast part of this city with mouths buried in it Mouths capable of speaking to us But we stop them up with concrete and build over them and whatever it is they wanted to say gets whispere “There is a vast part of this city with mouths buried in it Mouths capable of speaking to us But we stop them up with concrete and build over them and whatever it is they wanted to say gets whispered down empty alleys and turns into wind ” These are among the last words of Professor David Hollis before he throws himself off a ferry into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario A renowned professor of “forensic geology” David leaves in his wake both a historical mystery and an academic scandal He postulated that on the site where a sports arena is about to be built lie the ruins of a Victorian boat containing an extraordinary treasure a strongbox full of hundreds of never seen photographs of early Toronto a priceless record of a lost city His colleagues however are convinced that he faked his research materialsDetermined to vindicate him his widow Marianne sets up camp in a hotel overlooking the construction site watching and waiting for the boat to be unearthed The only person to share her vigil is John Lewis fiancé to her daughter Bridget An orphan who had come to love David as his own father John finds himself caught in a struggle between mother and daughter–all the while keeping a dark secret from both womenInterwoven into the contemporary story is another narrative set in s the tale of Jem Hallam a young apothecary struggling to make a living in the harsh new city so he can bring his wife and daughters from England Crushed by ruthless competitors he develops an unlikely friendship with two other down on their luck Torontonians Samuel Ennis a brilliant but dissolute Irishman and Claudia Rowe a destitute widow Together they establish a photography business and set out to create images of a fledgling city where wooden sidewalks are put together with penny nails where Indians spear salmon at the river mouth and the occasional bear ambles down King Street where department stores display international wares and fine mansions sit cheek by jowl with shantytownsConsolation moves back and forth between David Hollis’s legacy and Jem Hallam’s struggle to survive ultimately revealing a mysterious connection between the two narratives Exuisitely crafted and masterfully written Michael Redhill’s superlative book reveals how history is often transformed into a species of fantasy and how time alters the contours of even the things we hold most certain As complex and layered as the city whose story it tells Consolation evokes the mysteries of love and memory and what suffering the absence of the beloved truly means From the Hardcover edition.

  • Paperback
  • 480 pages
  • Consolation
  • Michael Redhill
  • English
  • 15 December 2016
  • 9780385659512

About the Author: Michael Redhill

Inger Ash WolfeMichael Redhill is an American born Canadian poet playwright and novelistBorn in Balti Maryland Redhill was raised in the metropolitan Toronto Ontario area He pursued one year of study at Indiana University and then returned to Canada completing his education at York University and the University of Toronto He was on the editorial board of Coach House Press from to and is currently the publisher and editor of the Canadian literary magazine BrickHis play Building Jerusalem depicts a meeting between Karl Pearson Augusta Stowe Gullen Adelaide Hoodless and Silas Tertius Rand on New Year's Eve night just prior to the th century.

10 thoughts on “Consolation

  1. Rebecca McNutt Rebecca McNutt says:

    Consolation is a brilliantly written Canadian novel about the rapidly changing world and about the secrets we bury and the legacies we all leave behind filled with the nostalgia of history and the sadness of the impending future and the past forgotten this book is definitely one of my favorites and I highly recommend it

  2. The Master The Master says:

    I took a long time getting through this book because I didn't want it to end Redhill could have made it twice as long and I wouldn't have complained Compelling characters and settings especially the 1850s Toronto segments I really really loved this book Redhill is one of my favourite Canadian authors

  3. Peter Peter says:

    He put it a recently excavated clay pipe into my hand and closed my fingers over it and he said ‘the past really happened’” “You held it in your hand You know something most people don’t” Consolation 435 Consolation changed the way I look at Toronto the city where I live This was not only because it asked me to imagine things like black bears walking down King St or a graveyard in fact a necropolis at the now busy intersection of Yonge and Bloor which added a vivid historical layer to these locations; but also because it illustrated that knowing something about how my home city grew from woodland to metropolis is important Redhill’s book show that a place so full of significance to me by virtue of its familiarity was invested with value and meaning by people who died long before I existed To carry a heightened awareness of this the idea of the possibility of this is to experience your city differently But Consolation is not just a pean to Toronto and its history Redhill’s novel also elegantly and movingly explores themes of loss and family The story's split between two periods facilitates this well In sections set in the present the reader slowly collects a portrait of David—an ALS afflicted father and husband whose academic discovery and death sets the plot in motion—through his grieving family Each member struggles to define what the absence of David means to them and as they go a picture of David becomes present for the reader The other sections of the book that take place in 1850s Toronto provide a structural inversion In 1850s Toronto it is the father and husband Jem that grapples with the absence of his family who remain in England a three week postal delay away A failing business and loneliness presses him toward new friendships and opportunities and in creating them Jem gains a deeper understanding of himself Similarly elegant symmetries abound in this book as does Redhill’s beautiful insightful prose Both work together to illustrate among other many things that the connections between past and present are not as faint as we it is sometimes all too easy to precieve them to be

  4. Kirsty Darbyshire Kirsty Darbyshire says:

    This was a really enjoyable read; a story of early Toronto 1850ish if I remember correctly intertwined a story of another Toronto family in 1997 Each half of the story has a pretty similar weighting and I didn't mind switching between the two because it didn't happen too often and both halves were entertaining and written in similar stylesThe modern day story is woven around the death of David Hollis a historical researcher and the historical story meets up with his research in a way that's not too obvious but such that we're recognisably reading one story rather than twoThe characters were the best aspect of the writing and felt like real people not always consistent not always nice not always understanding what their actions would mean but not completely ignorant of this either However for a story that is very much about a place the location didn't really come alive to me except in a few passages in the historical story I liked the fact that the story involved early photography though and these bits of the story worked very well especially as some old photographs are included in the bookI'm not sure if I think it's Booker prize winning material or even shortlist material although it's a weighty book it was a uick read and didn't seem terribly substantial Definitely a good read though

  5. Robert Colquhoun Robert Colquhoun says:

    I borrowed this book without putting much time into reviewing it beforehand When I actually picked it up to read and determined what it was about ie Toronto I figured it would be boring and likely not worth my while Once I started reading it I initially confirmed my suspicions and almost put it down in reality I never do this Am I glad I didn't I loved the intermingling of the two stories; one from 1997 Toronto where I happen to live and one from 1856 historical Toronto It became a two for one bonusI'm a fan of historical fiction and thoroughly enjoyed delving into the beginnings of what has now become the Toronto of today Redhill did an excellent job of using the appropriate diction for the times which made it all that much likeableDefinitely a good read and proof of the old adage Don't judge a book by its cover

  6. Nancy Nancy says:

    I live in Toronto I love history and architecture This book was an incredible read and eventually I found myself on a walking tour of the buildings and history with Michael RedhillThere is so much development happening in the area of the waterfront where land was reclaimed now I am sure many artifacts are found and some even hidden so the development goes on uninterruptedThis novel was an eye opener and very engaging Loved it

  7. Merilee Merilee says:

    I must say I enjoyed this book 5 stars' worth but that's because I've lived in and near Toronto since 1977 It's a good story uite how true I'm not sure of the search for some historical 1850s photos of Toronto possibly buried in the landfill which has become Toronto south of Front Street and which was previously Lake Ontario There are two threads 1850s and late 1990s

  8. Zoom Zoom says:

    I think this book was too complex for the state of mind I was in while reading it I loved the idea of a historical novel focused on early photographic techniues in Toronto as well as the archeological nature of the story I liked the idea of the layers of history building on one another and later being uncovered in reverse orderI think I loved the concept than the actual bookThere were some flashes of brilliance especially towards the end Redhill is a clever writer but sometimes it felt like he was too clever for me I kept wondering if I was missing thingsdid some key part of the plot really happen or was it made up by one of the characters? I still don't knowSpeaking of characters I really liked the 19th century characters but really didn't care about the modern ones

  9. Antonia Antonia says:

    After reading Bellevue Suare I was determined to read all of Michael Redhill's books my Goodreads challenge for 2019 He has become My Favourite Author overnight Consolation is the second Redhill book that I have read but was disappointed It's well written and thoughtfully presented with its zigzagging timelines I just found it too slow lacking the zany twists of Bellevue Suare But Michael Redhill is still My Favourite Author and the challenge is still on

  10. Jason Pettus Jason Pettus says:

    The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercomAs regular readers know all this month I'm doing a special concentration here on the nominees for the 2007 Booker Prize basically the British version of the Pulitzer and a prize many think is actually impressive than the Pulitzer; and it's no surprise that in general I've been disappointed by the nominated books I've now read finding them on the whole to be too delicate too inconseuential too Delightfully British in the worst way possible And thus do we come to the fourth Booker nominee to be reviewed here at CCLaP Michael Redhill's Consolation; and surprisingly enough this one I actually did enjoy uite a bit and have been spending some time recently thinking about why that is Partly I suppose that it's set in Canada which is the least British and most American of all the British Commonwealth nations which are the only countries eligible for the Booker; partly because it's not only Canadian but specifically a love letter to the city of Toronto and I'm a fan of literary love letters to big cities Partly because of the intriguing dual storyline I'm sure one set in the modern age and one during Toronto's founding in the Victorian Age; partly because those storylines are filled with fascinating and complex characters all of them interacting with a dual mystery at the heart of the plot In any case I'm happy to finally come across a Booker nominee I actually enjoyed; I was starting to think that maybe there was something wrong with meIn essence a mystery story Consolation tells the tale of eccentric historian David Hollis who lives so fully in the past that he an actually walk around Toronto telling you who lived in random houses in the 1860s Hollis has Lou Gehrig's Disease and is rapidly dying but has decided to spend his remaining days pursuing an obscure theory he has formed that buried under the debris of Toronto's lakefront is a series of priceless artifacts concerning the city's history See like Chicago turns out that Toronto created its own artificial shoreline in the early 20th century with landfill literally being poured in around shipwrecks and the like; Hollis has become convinced that one of these shipwrecks contains a leather covered lockbox full of rare glass photo negatives surveying almost the entire city limits at a specific moment in the mid 1850s Given that barely any documents from this period of the city's history exist this would be a major find indeed; the problem though is that the theory is based on highly circumstantial evidence not enough to convince a politician to spend the tax money on an urban archeological dig leaving Hollis' theory still unproven at the time of his deathHalf of Consolation's story then

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